Kids Reading Books To Dogs Isn’t Just Crazy Cute, It’s Therapy

Let’s all make our kids read to our pets! How freakin’ cool is this idea? My kids are all avid readers but they could all use some help in reading out loud and learning how to project their voices, and my dog has no job. He does nothing except bark at the mailman, lick his personal dog area, and sleep. His new job is going to be acting as audience to my kids who I will have read to him. Dogs, books and kids, it’s like everything great about life in one idea.

From the Newark Advocate:

“Even your best friend will snicker if you mess up a word real bad,” said Sadie Smith, head of children’s services at the library.

A non-judgmental environment is key to building a child’s confidence for reading, said Patti Shanaberg, the founder and director of Angel Paws, whose dog, Molly Moo, had her first day on the job Thursday. Shanaberg said studies show a child’s blood pressure rises when reading to parents, teachers or peers but decreases when reading to a dog.

“It’s a sense of empowerment; they feel like they’re teaching the dog,” said Lesley Pulsipher, international coordinator for the program with Intermountain Therapy Animals, the Salt Lake City-based organization that came up with the concept in 1999.

Better yet, some evidence suggests the practice improves reading scores for children.

Intermountain collects data from a handful of school districts that use reading dogs. According to one recent report from a district in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, reading scores improved by the end of the year for most of the students who participated.

If you don’t have a pet at home, most shelters welcome volunteers to spend time with homeless animals. Calling ahead and checking and also making a small donation of food or money would also be appreciated, but what a great way to increase your kid’s reading abilities and help out a homeless pet, who would just be overjoyed at getting attention.

I love this program but if you don’t have a similar one in your area it would be easy to implement on your own either using your own dog or cat or a neighbor’s animal, as long as your kid understands how to behave around animals. I think anything that gets kids excited about reading is a great thing, and I can see where this would boost a kid’s confidence and reading abilities. Plus, little kids love having “jobs” and telling them that it’s their job to read to an animal will make them feel responsible and look forward to sharing a book with a furry friend.

I know my kids will love doing this. I think my dog will enjoy it too, and who knows? Maybe if he is read to enough he will start to understand more words and eventually he will start to have books that are his favorites. I’m just glad my kids aren’t old enough to get into the Twilight series. I don’t need a dog who is all sparkle vampire obsessed.

(photo:  Anna Hoychuk/shutterstock)

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    • Rebecca

      This got me a little excited. My four year old is reading a lot of words now, but only if it’s her idea. If you ask her to read something she clams right up

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        I think it’s such a cute idea. We need video of your kid reading to a dog!

    • Lo

      Just make sure the pet isn’t a parrot. One mispronunciation could haunt your kid for years.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        haha!

    • To Celebrate Women

      Just make sure the pet’s on board. I’m pretty sure my dog would just wander away to the nearest edible thing, leaving the kid to run after her book in hand.

    • Kate

      I work at a library that has a “Paws to Read” program, and we use volunteers with certified therapy dogs. The dogs are very well mannered and attentive to the children.

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